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Member Spotlight for the Month of April 2003 - Bruce W Niedt

Bruce W Niedt"There's no such thing as a finished poem, only an abandoned one."
~ author's name temporarily forgotten ~

With a chuckle over both the quote and the inability to remember who said it, Bruce Niedt exhibited the self-deprecating humor that is one aspect of his personality. His library on Pathetic reflects that aspect, as well as a disciplined and learned approach to writing poetry and short stories.

Bruce was born into a middle-class family in New Jersey, the oldest in a family of four. His love of writing began when he "was a kid," but seriously took root when he began writing for his high school literary magazine. While he tended toward short stories in the beginning, he claims poetry as his "first love." Citing William Carlos Williams as an influence during those years, Bruce also found a proclivity toward free-verse that he so appreciated in the "straightforward, vivid imagery" of Willams writing.

A college education at Rutgers University led to a major in Psychology, but Bruce attended to his literary interests by earning a minor in English. By then he knew that writing would always be an interest. He married his college sweetheart and settled down to raise a family. Years passed, responsibilities and obligations ensued, and Bruce found that his hopes to be a writer were often just a glimpse over his shoulder.

Four years ago, when the child-raising years began to settle, Bruce began to write consistently. He has been on the site for over three years, and he says that Pathetic is instrumental in his rebirth as a poet. He credits fellow "Pathetic" poets such as Famida Basheer, John Heckman, Renee Marshall, and more recently, James Byrne and Jason Crespo, as important in helping him refine his craft.

In addition to joining Pathetic, Bruce also began participating in writing workshops and local poetry circles. He now is active in several groups, and is the facilitator of a smaller critique group that meets at a local library. He has gained experience at public poetry readings, including appearances on local radio and cable TV. The feedback and help he received from all of these organizations gave him the impetus to consider publishing his work. He started by "reading Poet's Market from cover to cover." He applied to several on-line and print poetry magazines, and soon had his first publication, "How to Peel an Orange," in the April 2000 issue of Stirring: A Literary Collection. Since then his work has appeared in more than two dozen publications. A complete list of them is available in his library. He has also self-published a chapbook, Waltzing Home.

His advice to aspiring poets who want to be published: "It's gotta be good. A poem that says something in a new or unique way has a better chance. Choose poems that you would be proud to see in print. Then ask for critique." He recommends that poets use Pathetic's Forum Board to give and receive serious critiquing. Find local workshops and critique groups where possible. It also helps to research the magazine you are interested in to learn their style, Bruce says, so the poem can be a good match to the magazine's preferences. He also advises, "Don't send a poem you wrote yesterday. Be objective – wait at least a month or two until you are closer to the final stage of revision."

Bruce's own poetry comes from a source that is "mostly inspiration, with some perspiration. I just get an idea and work with it." Sometimes he forces himself to write, just to "jog the creative juices." Writing exercises often help. One of the best books about the discipline of writing, he says, is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. His poetry, though, is posted without a lot of rewrites, though he is "always open to changing a line or stanza." Though he still prefers free verse, he also dabbles in poetic forms like the sonnet and haiku, and less familiar ones like the ghazal and terza rima. Among his most personal poems are "Nephew" and "Pink Ribbon," both written for members of his family. Bruce says that he has gotten lots of positive response from his "lighter" works such as "Coyote Rebuffed" and "All the Clocks in My House Are Set to Different Times."

While William Carlos Williams was a huge influence in Bruce's poetry, he also includes Dylan Thomas as his favorite "romantic/lyrical" poet. His most admired contemporary poets are Billy Collins, Marge Piercy, and Seamus Henry. "I tend to gravitate towards Twentieth Century poets," Bruce says, who also mentions Yeats, Robert Hayden and Richard Wilbur as favorites.

While Bruce is enjoying a broader base of readership, he also had a brief brush with fame in '99, when the show, “Who Wants To Be Millionaire" was in its first season. He was a contestant in two shows and "missed the hot seat by 4/10ths of a second."

Bruce is married with four boys, ages 25, 21, 17 and 7. The youngest is his recently-adopted nephew. He is a Claims Representative with the Social Security Administration and lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The following is a list of the highlights of Bruce W Niedt's poetry:

Author: Mara Meade

The member spotlighted in this month's "Member Spotlight" is chosen by the pathetic.org Spotlight committee, which is made up of a small group of site patrons and administrators. Each month a member is selected for this privilege based upon contributions to pathetic.org and the quality of work.

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